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Smart Cruise Control

Automatically drive at best speed for fuel consumption
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This system has an integrated GPS and an interface with the automobile engine system. Based on the GPS data (which includes road height), the car can calculate the optimum speed to travel to reach the destination based on a set of parameters.

- Optimum fuel consumption - Desired arrival time - Speed limit excess allowed - etc

The car will not slavishly maintain a single speed when going up and down hills, instead it will choose the most fuel efficient method of going up the hill with the knowledge that it will shortly be going down the other side. Additionally, it will be able to initiate a coast at the right time such that the car hits intersections at the optimal turning speed.

Further extending the idea, the cruise control will be designed such that it can monitor engine performance and make adjustments to the solution based on that performance. So if the nominal optimum speed for a car is 55 mph, each car will have some optimum speed around that value and the cruise system will learn that speed and adjust it as it varies over time and life of the engine.

Traffic could be accounted for by installing camera or radar type systems that already exist for maintaining a distance between vehicles.

toodles, Sep 22 2009

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       [ ] I think today's rides have a "fuel consumption" or "mileage" display which is as far as you can go without the support of a rather involved electronic-highway infrastructure.   

       Personally I'd be happy if they'd give complete specs on a vehicle including cd, engine power and component loss graphs.
FlyingToaster, Sep 22 2009
  

       Alas, the optimum speed for most cars is about 45mph (72kph).   

       I'm about to post an Idea that is a little similar to this one, but hopefully different enough it will be allowed to survive.
Vernon, May 22 2010
  

       Not sure this'd be popular with the general public, but I could see it as the basis for a race. Teams would start with a specified make & model of car. They could add whatever sensors, electronics, computers & software they liked (the rules governing actuators would have to be a little more complex). The winner would be determined by a weighting function, with arrival time (at the finish line), fuel consumption, maximum speed, and so on, included. The race course would be published beforehand, but the weights for the weighting function would be announced 30 minutes before the start of the race.
mouseposture, May 22 2010
  
      
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